Good morning weblog fans. I got a few emails overnight about a project John, Jake and Lawrence are doing with a famous publication while I'm reading books and watching movies, walking and recuperating. Murphy-willing we'll be hosting thousands of weblogs under a new brand quite soon. The nice thing for me is that UserLand can move forward while my body fixes itself.
Hey here's a list of Indian weblogs.
Dubya should be very worried about this here story. Older affluent American voters who invested their retirement money in speculative stocks. "The Pringles have since lost about 75 percent of their investment. Far from taking any trips to Europe, they have done what they vowed never to do: mortgaged their house and gone back to work." The Dems now have a killer issue for the 2002 election, barring fresh homeland terrorism.
On the other hand, I heard Daniel Schorr's commentary this morning and it made me retch, I almost wet my pants with anger. All the cries for reform from the journalists are a convenient form of finger-pointing that draws the attention away from them. Yeah, sure the boards of directors of the companies should have been watching management more carefully, it was their job to do that and they fell down. It wasn't really Dubya's job, as the governor of Texas, to be watching this. Sure he's a dirty man, he's profited from the slackish rules. But the press was supposed to be blowing the whistle then, and instead were playing footsy with the CEOs just like the board members and the accounting firms. That came home to me, reading the latest issue of Fortune with Bill Gates on the cover (they say he's achieved serenity, oh sure, give me a fucking break). The journalists of the 1990s were lapdogs for the CEO du jour, they still are, even though the CEOs are going down down down.
Another btw, I saw Humphrey Bogart's last movie yesterday on Turner Classic Movies. It was Rod Steiger day on TCM. The movie, The Harder They Fall, was about a journalist who lost his job and decided to get dirty to make some money as a boxing publicist. That was Bogart. The fight promoter was played by Steiger. Bogie's wife was a weak clone of Lauren Bacall. Bogie looked older, but not that sick. He died of cancer shortly after the movie was completed. I guess in those days, before chemotherapy, you looked okay before you died of cancer. It was a good movie. The last Bogart scene was also a good one. He blows the whistle on the corruption. Bravo.
On this day in 1997 Denise Caruso wrote a kickass story about Amelio's Apple in the NY Times. And on this day in 1998 I wrote a newbies piece about XML-RPC. It's the most-read DaveNet. That's cool.
Another elegant juxtaposition thanks to the iPod. Money Can't Buy It by the Eurythmics; followed by Money For Nothing by Dire Straits. Couldn't be more different, but both are about money and they play well with each other. A few songs later, we hear Morgantown by Joni Mitchell. Is there a better Sunday morning song? Nahhh.
A big hug and a kiss on the cheek and best wishes to the always-lovable Marek, who had a birthday on July 3 (he shares that with Sheila Lennon). He was and possibly still is in the hospital, they thought he might have cancer, but it seems not. Whew. This is the summer when the blogs take a break, whether or not they're ready for them. Hospitals. Who'd a thunk it was time for that.
Blood's Blog Books
There was no doubt that it's the time for blog books, lots of em, coming soon; and what a strange idea that is. Take a medium that's even more ephemeral than news and freeze it in print, let it sit on a publisher's shelf for a year, and hope that the writing remains relevant as anything more than a time capsule of a particular point of view that didn't end up dominating (with the benefit of hindsight, that every reader has, but the author(s) don't).
Yesterday I got two books in the mail, for free, thanks, they were worth a skim, maybe more to find out what Rebecca Blood thinks about blogs, which hasn't changed much. I found little that I agree with. Her original history was all wrong, and while she's made some corrections, she still doesn't understand the medium, or even tell the story of how weblogs came to be with any accuracy. This is why her friends didn't dominate, and why her books are both so anachronistic. Lack of respect for the story. Yuck.
I could give lots of examples, but you can get the book yourself and imagine you were the editor, and get out the blue pencil and start marking up. Or skip the whole exercise, realizing that there are lots of computer books vying for your attention and lots of free opinions on the Web, like this one, which is worth about what you pay for it.
The second book, which is a collection of essays from the Web about weblogs, didn't appear to have an editor (or none claimed credit). I'd be interested in knowing the process by which essays were selected. I had read most of them. Once again, just a slice through the story and community, an arbitrary starting point, and some cute stuff, some interesting stuff, but mostly they miss what's going on now.
It's the software
One of Blood's theses is that there's been too much focus on the software. A year ago I might have agreed, but today I think that all that blogs have in common is the a reverse chronologic structure, with a calender; links and comments. It's a structure to hang ideas on. Much the way a spreadsheet is a structure, or an outliner or a word processor (although structure in a wp is a looser thing). Add some community features and tweak from there.
In 2002, we're beginning to get to a category of software, with lines of delineation -- Movable Type is different from Manila, and Radio is different from Blogger, if one wanted to study a category, the products are lining up to accomodate. Other than that there's little that each blog has in common with other blogs. It's like trying to figure out what word processing documents have in common. People did try to do that in the late 70s and early 80s, but then the market exploded, and that ended all such speculation.
Other Blog Books
Of all the books in process, I hold the most hope for the BlogRoots book: written by ex-Pyrites Meg Hourihan, Matt Haughey, and Paul Bausch. They put enough time into it (the O'Reilly book was a rush job) and they (appear to) have the right premise. It would have been possible for a philosophical book to have lasting value, but to do so, they should have gotten a social butterfly to edit it, one who crosses all the lines with ease, someone who likes everyone and who everyone likes, but somehow doesn't have to kiss ass to do it. (Note: I am not that person, as you can see I don't suffer fools, I don't write to make friends, and I know it.)
One of the things that kills books about blogs is the shelf-time they spend between the time they were written and the time they go to press. This is a fast-moving area. That really is visible in the Blood books, and I suspect will also be evident in the O'Reilly and BlogRoots books.
Another problem with books about blogs (blooks?) is that as I read them I want to comment, more than any other kind of book (I've been reading a lot lately). Well, how do you do that? Will these books be on the Web? Will they have paragraph-level permalinks? That's a naive question, I don't have an opinion, and I don't really understand books about blogs.
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